Thursday, May 11, 2006

A hard game

Mr Reeve's sallow face is dominated by a considerable nose, the nostrils and tip inflated into a drinker's bulb, purple, veined. The rims of his eyes seem to be pulled down by the gravitational pull of this nose.

Mr Reeves has been to the eye specialist, who has put dye into his eyes to illuminate the corneas. This has turned them yellow. The spill-over of the dye mixed with Mr Reeve's tears has left trails of yellow paint down his cheeks. He looks like a broken Mr Punch, attacked with a brush by the puppeteer after a drinking session.

On the ambulance, he wheezes out the story of his working life. He was a printer, on Fleet Street, first on the Evening Standard, and then on some other journals I haven't heard of.

'What a great life. I miss that life. Do you miss London? I lived in Old Street. Oh yes – a real Cockney. All round there I knew. Ironmonger Row. City Road. All around and about. But my sister moved out to H., and she was always on at me to get a place near her. I came out to see her plenty of times, and I must admit it did seem very countrified and clean. No foreigners. So when my wife died I sold up and moved down, and spent the next three years catching the early train to London. That was a hard game, that was. Sometimes I'd be working nights and not get home till a couple of days later. It all got a bit much, so I gave up completely and retired. But I miss my working life. And I'll never see anything like it again.'

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